Harran the major ancient city in upper Mesopotamia is located near the modern village of Altinbasak in present Turkey. The location of Harran is in the district of Sanliurfa province. Harran was the major cultural and commercial as well as a religious center inhabited as early as the 3rd century BCE.
The place finds mention in Hebrew Bible; Harran first appeared in the Book of Genesis as the home of Terah and also as temporary home of her patriarch’s son Abraham. This was the place where Prophet Abraham and his tribe stayed for several years. The place is referred to as Harran or Charan and Charran.
About The Ancient Place
The excavations in this area confirmed that the site was settled in 3rd century BC, while the clay tablets found at the site dates from the 18th century BC. The invasions and the domination of different nations did not change the status of Harran as a center of worship, the Babylonians who arrived at 556 to 539 BC encouraged the Sin Cult. The Byzantine Emperor Theodosius destroyed many shrines including the Sin Temple.
Despite of the various rulers’ invasion and the subsequent destruction’s, there are some towns in the interior that had escaped the changeovers in Harran and these ruins are the attractions of the tourists and the visitors of this area.
The place where Prophet Abraham is said to have lived, this old center in ancient Harran is the main center of attraction, which is now called as Altinbasak. The excavations have revealed settlement mounds that are the evidence of habitation dating as early as 3rd century BC onwards. There are badly decayed town walls surrounding the major portion of the ancient city. The ring of the walls has around seven gates. Five gates out of these can still be identified: in the West is the Aleppo gate, and the gate was restored by Saladin in 1192, as per the inscription there. There is Lion’s Gate in the North and Raqqua Gate in the South and the Roman Gate while the Mosul Gate lies to the west of the area.
The ruins of the fort lies in the southeast portion of the site, this impressive Citadel was once a fabulous three storey construction. This was later restored in 1032 by the Fatimids. There were 3 polygonal towers which can still be traced. The Moon temple for which Harran was immensely popular, was assumed to have been in this. The other school of thought has instead fortified that the shrine was located to the northeast, at the Ulu Camii site. There are remains of a mosque in this large square site which is reported to have been built by the Umayyed rulers. This is supposed to have been the first Islamic University. This was extended till 830, and restored by Saladin between 1174 to 1184.
Harran is located 50 kilometers to the south of present day Sanliurfa. Harran is popular for the traditional beehive types of homes made of wood, the design keeps them cool inside as per the climatic needs and these are known to have remained unchanged for 3000 years.